European Championships: Kuzey Tuncelli, 16, Wins 1,500 Free; Apostolos Christou Hits World No. 2 100 Back

Photo Courtesy: European Aquatics

European Championships: Kuzey Tuncelli, 16, Wins 1,500 Free Crown

Kuzey Tuncelli is just 16 years old. But the Turkish wunderkind is a European Champion and a sub-15-minute 1,500 freestyler.

Tuncelli outdueled Mykhailo Romanchuk Sunday on the final day of the European Championships, clocking in at 14:55.64 to win gold. It’s just off his national record of 14:54.16, set at the European Youth Olympic Festival in 2023. (He also went 14:54.98 at the World Championships in Doha this year.)

All the action from the final day of swimming in Belgrade:

Men’s 1,500 freestyle

A day’s delay due to weather on Saturday did nothing to stop Kuzey Tuncelli. He was fourth at 850 meters before ramping it up to the lead 100 meters later, and he pulled away from there.

He ended up more than five seconds clear of Mykhailo Romanchuk, who had just held him off in prelims. The Ukrainian, who won the 800, secured silver in 15:00.99 for his 10th career Euros gold. Hungary’s Zalan Sarkany held off Nathan Wiffen of Ireland for bronze in 15:06.67.

Men’s 50 freestyle

For not the first time on the final day, Greece authored a 1-2 finish. Kristian Gkolomeev won the event in 21.72 seconds, edging countryman Stergios Marios Bilas by .01 seconds. Bilas mounted his charge form Lane 8 and nearly pulled the surprise.

Ukraine pocketed another medal via Vladyslav Bukhov, whose 21.85 was sufficient for bronze. Piotr Ludwiczak of Poland used his outside smoke to finish fourth in 21.90, ahead of Andrej Barna of the host country.

Women’s 50 breaststroke

Poland’s Dominika Sztandera clipped .04 off her national record to win the race in 30.55 seconds. She was a tenth ahead of Veera Kivirinta, the top seed from semis, who got silver in 30.65. That’s the first medal for Finland at these games. (National record holder Ida Hulkko finished sixth.)

Olivia Klint Ipsa of Sweden rounded out the podium, finishing third in 30.95. She was .05 up on Maria Thaleia Drasidou of Greece, again from an outside lane.

Men’s 100 backstroke

The Greeks were back at it, as in climbing to the top steps of the podium.

Apostolos Christou won gold in 52.23, easily outdistancing countryman Evangelos Makrygiannis by six tenths. That time for Christou is second in the world this year, .01 behind what Ryan Murphy used to win at U.S. Olympic Trials.

“It’s a great time and another gold for me,” Christos told European Aquatics. “I am really happy with the result and it’s a good push for me through Paris. I’m really happy and excited because the Europeans wasn’t my main goal, my main goal is Paris. I wanted to be fast here, I achieved that and I have all the confidence for Paris.”

The USC swimmer rallied with a 27.02 coming home for silver in 52.83, passing Poland’s Ksawery Masiuk. Christou won the 50 back with Makrygiannis getting bronze.

Masiuk went 53.56 for bronze. He fended off a charge from Ukraine’s Oleksandr Zheltiakov, the 200 back winner. He got withing three tenths but ended up fourth in 53.85. Fifth was Kacper Stokowski of Poland.

Women’s 200 butterfly

A stunning race ended up with Helena Rosendahl Bach on top for Denmark, with a gold-winning time of 2:07.88. She was first from the 100-meter wall on, but she had a push from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Lana Pudar, who got silver in 2:08.15. Rosendahl Bach was second in this event in 2022.

Boglarka Telegdy Kapas was seventh at 100 meters and rallied to third in 2:08.22. It’s her 13th career Euros medal, having won this event in 2018 and 2022. She was more than two seconds ahead of countrywoman Zsuzsanna Jakabos.

Men’s 200 individual medley

For the second straight edition of the European Championships, Hubert Kos is a 200 IM champion. This one came in unforgettable fashion.

Kos roared home in 27.82, a full second faster than his one-time Pac-12 rival Ron Polonsky to win in 1:57.21, a margin of just .15 seconds over Polonsky’s 1:57.36. Kos was fourth as the field turned for home, .85 seconds behind the pace Polonsky set.

“Man, I’m dead. Organise me a funeral at the end,” Kos told European Aquatics. “It was my 16th start here. I don’t really know where this all came from. Perhaps my experience. And of course, it’s the (coach) Bob Bowman impact. That is what gives you the power to launch a finish like this.”

Polonsky still held on for second and Israel’s seventh medal of the meet. Third was Berke Saka of Turkey in 1:58.62. He was second at the final wall before Kos jetted by him. Dominik Mark Torok of Hungary was fourth in 1:58.89, with Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland fifth.

Women’s 400 freestyle

Anja Kesely pulled out a narrow win in 4:06.56, just .16 up on Barbora Seemanova. Seemanova, who won the 100 free and 200 free to go with 200 IM bronze, led up until the 300-meter wall. But Kesley came back in 30.86 and 30.28, her margin of eight tenths over Seemanova on the penultimate 50 proving decisive.

Francisca Martins of Portugal won that nation a rare medal with bronze in 4:10.94. Great Britain’s Fleur Lewis was fourth.

Men’s 400 freestyle

With the postponement of the 1,500 forcing decisions among the distance set, Felix Aubock was able to capitalize. The veteran Austrian blew away the field by more than four seconds to win in 3:43.24. It’s the 10th fastest time in the world in 2024.

It’s just the second European medal for the 27-year-old, who won silver in the 400 in 2020 and bronze in the 200 in 2022.

Greece’s Dimitrios Markos beat a crowd of 3:47s to silver. He was tied with Israel’s Bar Soloveychik for second at the 350-meter wall, with four swimmers clustered within .16 seconds. Markos pulled out the fastest final 50 in the entire field at 26.80 to get his hand on the wall in 347.44, .18 ahead of Switzerland’s Antonio Djakovic. Danas Rapsys was fourth in 3:47.87, with Soloveychik sliding to fifth in 3:48.47.

Women’s 400 medley relay

Poland had just three individual medals on the women’s side, but they made for a strong relay.

Adela Piskorska, the 100 back champ, and 50 breast champ Dominika Sztandera put the Poles in clean water on the way to a comfortable relay win in 3:58.71. That’s a national record by 1.5 seconds over the time from the 2023 World Championships. Paulina Peda and Kornelia Fiedkiewicz comprised the back-half of the relay Sunday, as well as the words relay in 2023.

Piskorska was out in 1:00.40, the fastest leadoff leg by .68 seconds. Sztandera followed in 1:06.07; none of the other serious contenders broke 1:08, save for Tina Celik of seventh-placed Slovenia. Peda (58.15) and Fiedkiewicz held serve from there, the latter’s 54.09 the second-fastest.

Hungary was second in 4:01.50, with the team of Lora Komoroczy, Eszter Bekesi, Panna Ugrai and Nikolett Padar. Denmark was third. Sweden was running second after Sara Junevik’s 57.82 in fly but slowed to fourth.

Men’s 400 medley relay

Speaking of sparse individual medals to relay success – Simon Bucher had Austria’s only medal of Euros before Felix Aubock’s stellar 400 free. Then Austria went out and won the 400 medley relay in just spectacular fashion.

The team of Bernhard Reitshammer, Valentin Bayer, Bucher and Heiko Gigler went 3:33.41 to edge Poland by .03 and Ukraine by .09 to gold.

Austria was running third at the second two handoffs before Gigler uncorked a 47.58 on the anchor to rally to gold. He got his hand on the wall just before Poland’s Kamil Sieradzki (48.03) and Ukraine’s Illia Linnyk (48.73). Ukraine was first at the last handoff, .64 up on Poland. Poland clocked in at 3:33.44, Ukraine 3:33.50.

Hungary was out of the mix after Adam Jaszo’s second-fastest leadoff leg of 54.49. It was fourth in 335.05, a quarter second up on Denmark.

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1 day ago

Isn’t the 52.05 by Xu from systemic drug cheating China first this cycle with USA Murphy second then the Greek in third?

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